Online Language Degrees

As the world becomes ever more connected, many employers are in need of qualified professionals who can speak more than one language. A language education can prepare students for a plethora of jobs located abroad or close to home. Online language degree programs can help students get the training they need to improve their language skills and make them more marketable in their job search.

Graduates of language degree programs have a wide range of job opportunities available to them. In addition to teaching a foreign language, graduates may also be able to find work as an interpreter or translator. As economies continue to become more global, the demand for interpreters and translators is expected to increase enormously. These professionals could find themselves working in any number of different industries, including schools, hospitals, individual companies, or government organizations.

How to Choose the Right Language Degree

To become an interpreter or translator, most employers require job applicants to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a foreign language. With that being said, interpreters and translators must be able to communicate in no less than two languages with extreme fluency and accuracy. Students who wish to become interpreters but did not grow up speaking more than one language may greatly benefit by enrolling in a language degree program. For individuals interested in teaching foreign language education classes, bachelor’s degrees are almost always required.

Online language degree programs range from certificates to doctoral degrees. Detailed in the chart below are some of the different programs available, complete with potential career outcomes for each degree:

The amount of time a student should spend earning a language degree is highly dependent on their career goals, language proficiency, and cultural knowledge. Native speakers of multiple languages may be able to land entry-level jobs as interpreters or translators without earning a specific language degree. However, more education might be required to advance through their chosen field. Students who plan to teach in a school environment should strongly consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.

What to Expect in a Language Degree Program

The curriculum for a language degree program will differ by school and language. Core courses in a specific language typically include:

  • Written Communication
  • Oral Communication
  • Intermediate Language
  • Advanced Language
  • Film and Literature (by Language)
  • Cultural History (by Language)
  • Fundamentals of Teaching Foreign Languages
  • Phonetics
  • Linguistics
  • Methodologies for Teaching Foreign Languages

Some foreign language degree programs require students to study abroad for one or more semesters. This allows students to immerse themselves in the language and the culture which they are studying. Additionally, those who want to teach a foreign language may be required to complete student teaching practicums.

Language Degree Specializations

Students who participate in online language degree programs will be expected to specialize in at least one foreign language. Depending on the level of degree being pursued, students may be expected to translate and interpret that language, understand cultural aspects of the language and its people, present information and concepts in that language to a group, or dissect and discuss art and literature written in their chosen language. Additionally, demonstrating fluency in the language is expected at all degree levels. Some language education specializations include:

  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Foreign Language Education for Grades 7-12
  • Foreign Language Education for Adults

These are only a few of the popular language education options available. Exact specializations vary by school, and may include additional options not listed above. Students should search for language degree programs that provide the specialization that sparks their interest and contact the institution prior to enrollment.

Benefits of Online Language Degree Programs

Learning fluency in a foreign language is a skill that can be acquired regardless of location. Additionally, many cultural and historical studies do not require attendance in a physical classroom. This makes online language degree programs a perfect fit for those seeking a language education.Students enrolled in online programs can design a study schedule to fit within the confines of their already busy lives. Lectures are often pre-recorded and made available for students to view at any time of day or night. Assignments and course materials can also be found online through the school’s learning management system (LMS). Depending on the particular program, online students might participate in virtual meetups, connect with peers and professors using video chat, or communicate via message boards and email.Working professionals and students with family commitments may find online learning particularly beneficial. Online courses provide a flexibility not found with traditional on-campus programs. With round-the-clock access to their course materials, students have the ability to pursue their studies when it is most convenient for them.

Careers in Foreign Languages

With businesses of every type needing employees who are multilingual, career options for graduates of language degree programs seem endless. Listed below are some of the most popular options, including foreign language education and translation jobs, along with relevant wage and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

DegreeLength of CompletionPotential Careers
Certificate in Foreign LanguageCertificates in foreign language study are similar to a minor and typically taken along with an undergraduate degree program.Interpreter or Translator
Associate in Foreign LanguageThese programs generally take two years of full-time study to complete.Interpreter or Translator
Bachelor’s in Foreign LanguageThese programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.Interpreter or Translator; High School Teacher; Adult Literacy or High School Equivalency Diploma Teacher; Court Reporter
Master’s in Foreign Language EducationThese programs take up to two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor’s degree.Interpreter or Translator; High School Teacher
Ph.D. in Foreign Language EducationThese programs typically take up to 2-3 years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor’s and master’s degree.Interpreter or Translator, Postsecondary Teacher
Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Interpreters and Translators77,400$52,33020%
Foreign Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary22,790$ 80,4108%
Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners15,700$61,6609%
English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary64,800$ 81,3406%

Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2019-29 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Online language degree programs provide students with a variety of employment options upon graduation. Employers in almost every industry are seeking job applicants who are fluent in more than one language. In addition to translator and interpreter jobs, graduates may wish to pursue careers in language education themselves.To learn more about specific online language degree programs, request information from any of the schools listed below.

Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Court Reporters, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
High School Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Interpreters and Translators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Postsecondary Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Related Resources & Tools

Online Degrees in Conflict Resolution and Mediation

Online Degrees in Conflict Resolution and Mediation

Online Degrees in International Relations